Empowering Voices: How Pear Practice Revolutionized Learning in an Ohio Classroom
Laura Pearson, a dedicated teacher with a passion for using technology to enhance her instruction practices, shared her journey of integrating Pear Practice (formerly Giant Steps) into her classroom and the profound impact it has had on making learning inclusive, engaging, and fun.
Getting her game on
Laura's involvement with Pear Practice began through her district's tech influencers initiative. Frustrated by the underutilization of paid tools in her district, she signed up to become a Pear Deck Learning (Pear Practice’s parent company) influencer due to her extensive prior use of the interactive learning platform. Little did she know this would lead to the discovery of Pear Practice, the company’s gamified learning product.
As luck would have it, Laura’s first exposure to Pear Practice happened through TikTok - only three days before she received an invitation to pilot the platform. After convincing her school’s tech coordinator, she ensured Pear Practice was accessible to teachers and students in her class.
Laura now utilizes Pear Practice with her second and third-graders, fostering a daily routine that seamlessly integrates the platform into their learning. The students' enthusiasm is palpable, extending beyond the classroom as they inquire about it during school events and at home. The platform has become a catalyst for engagement and a topic of conversation among students.
"They'll ask me in the hallway about it. For instance, we had a school event last night, and little siblings were asking me things like, 'What does the Pear Practice thing look like in Clever? I can't find it,’” she said.
Supporting math skills across grades
A significant part of Laura's success with Pear Practice lies in her ability to bolster math skills not only in her classroom but across other classes as well. By tapping into Pear Practice’s versatile library of activities, Laura has been able to curate and share math-focused content that aligns with the curriculum needs of her students and their peers in different grades.
"I've been picking mostly math things. I feel really comfortable with math," Laura shared, highlighting her confidence in using the platform to reinforce key math concepts.
Her approach is strategic; she selects grade-appropriate sets and ensures there are activities for students at various skill levels. Laura's initiative has opened doors for students to practice independently, enhancing their confidence and mastery of math.
"I have offered to all the teachers that I'm using it with, if there is a topic or a vocabulary lesson or something they want me to assign them to review, I'm happy to do that in my class," Laura mentioned, showcasing her commitment to supporting her colleagues and their students' mathematical understanding through Pear Practice.
Supporting an inclusive learning environment Pear Practice
One of Pear Practice's key strengths lies in its ability to create inclusive learning experiences. Laura shared a heartwarming story about a second-grade student with unique challenges who, for the first time, actively participated in a team-based game without tears. The platform's scaffolding and team-centric features provided the support he needed, fostering a sense of accomplishment and joy.
"He logged in, and one girl looked over at him and said, 'You're on my team!' And he melted," Laura recounted, illustrating the moment of acceptance and belonging the student experienced. This platform allowed him to participate fully in a team-based game, communicate with his peers, and celebrate his contributions.
“While I was waiting in the parking lot for my husband to pick up my children, (this student) who has said three words to me in the three years I’ve been his tech teacher screamed from the parking lot, ‘I love your class!’ His mom came over and said, ‘I don't even know who you are,’ and explained how he said, ‘I love that game!’”
The student has an Instructional Assistant (IA) with him at all times, and after witnessing him play Pear Practice, the IA came up to Laura and asked, "Did you set that up so he could get help from his teammates?" Laura responded, "I didn't set it up, that's how all the game works."
The IA couldn’t believe it.
"That's the first time he has participated in a team-based event and not cried, thrown something, or quit."
From silent observers to active participants
Using Pear Practice in her classroom has also helped Laura empower traditionally quiet students. Learners who rarely spoke up in her class now actively participate by sending digital shout-outs and engaging with their peers through Pear Practice.
"There are kids that don't say peep in my class, and they are the ones who are sending the little digital stickers and cheering for every single question,” she explained.
The team aspect and cursor visibility contribute to a teamwork environment, shifting the dynamics of interaction within the classroom. These elements mitigate stress and make learning accessible to all. The absence of “winners only” prizes and emphasis on collaborative success contribute to a supportive and inclusive learning environment.
"I’ve also gotten the opportunity to have conversations with them about the difference between helping somebody and yelling the answer across the room,” she stated.
Bridging knowledge gaps
In Laura’s classroom, Pear Practice has become more than a tool; it's a bridge to greater understanding and inclusion. Her experiences remind us of the profound impact thoughtful use of technology can have on our students. For educators looking for ways to engage every learner, Laura's story offers hope and a practical path forward.
Pear Practice demonstrates that with the right resources, we can support diverse learning needs, encourage participation, and make education accessible to all.